New COVID strain flight bans underscore ‘desperate need’ for UK aviation industry support

wide shot of white aeroplane at airport

Commenting on the growing number of countries banning flights from the UK due to the emergence of a highly transmissible form of COVID-19 in the South East of England, Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said:

“Thousands of aviation jobs have already been lost this year due to the impact of the coronavirus, many of which could have been saved if the government had implemented early support for the industry.

“The increasing number of UK flight bans in response to the mutated strain of the virus has made the desperate need for a sector-specific package even more pressing.

“The government is once again fiddling while Rome burns with its as yet unseen plan to help aviation recover by 2025.

“The dithering of UK ministers stands in stark contrast to other countries whose governments took early action to ensure their aviation sectors were better protected when the severity of the crisis became apparent.

“Without immediate sector-specific support, the tsunami of redundancies experienced by airline, airport and other aviation workers will become ever more acute. This will simply add more hurt to communities and the UK’s economy as a whole.”

Together with the TUC and all aviation unions, Unite is calling for the government to take on the economic and fiscal measures needed to support the aviation sector, including:

  • The extension of, and modifications to, the coronavirus job retention scheme beyond April to protect employment in the aviation sector

  • Suspension of air passenger duty

  • Public service obligation routes to ensure regional connectivity

  • Business rate relief for airports (as in Scotland and Northern Ireland)

  • Extending the period of repayment of loans to aviation companies beyond the current two-year maximum.

The full list of measures can be found on Unite’s urgent autumn/winter update to its ‘Flying into the Future’ blueprint, which was first published in May in response to the coronavirus crisis.